It was all the way back in 1995 that Bullseye Art became one of the first to create what would be called a webisode. Their animated shorts gained popularity over the years and eventually resulted in a development deal with MTV.
Between 2003-2006 several web series began to crop up and be distributed independently on free video publishing sites like YouTube. Most notable of the series was Red vs. Blue, a comedy series made from captured footage from the video game Halo. Looking back today, the first season’s footage quality was laughable and barely took a third of the screen. However, it garnered a fanbase, recognition and finally publishing.
Web series are no longer about making a series for fun. They can now fully support their creators financially and challenge TV shows in content. YouTube created the Youtube Partnership Program where anyone can create an original web series and profit off the advertising. Many creators have developed unique series on the web, including Wine Library TV which has uploaded more than 1,000 videos, all about hundreds of different wines. YouTube is fully in support of web series, posting the Creator Playbook which guides web series creators in properly marketing their series and how to keep an audience through the Internet.
Web series have also moved even further into high-budget development. Several TV series, including “The Walking Dead” and “Breaking Bad”, have created web exclusive mini-sodes that expand the series’ worlds. Completely original shows have been created by Netflix including “Orange is the New Black”, “Arrested Development”, and “House of Cards”. All three were series that were released only online and all at once - meaning the viewers could watch the entire season if they wanted. These were the first web series to have TV commercials. Not only were they all critically acclaimed but “House of Cards” won 3 Primetime Emmys and all three series have been renewed for second seasons. Ranging from the award-winning to the made at home, web series have secured themselves as a lucrative medium.